No matter which state you’re starting a limited liability company (LLC) in, you’ll need a unique name to do business with. States will not let you use a designation already taken by another business entity. Read on to discover how an LLC name search can facilitate this process.
What is an LLC Name Search?
You’ve come up with the perfect name for your new LLC and are all set to submit registration documents to the state. If your fantastic moniker is already in use, the state will reject your paperwork and request you to resubmit with a different name choice. Any failed attempt to open your doors can cost untold amounts of time and money.
That’s where an LLC name search comes in. Many business registration services have an LLC lookup tool you can use to uncover which names are available and those already in use. The probe will also identify similar titles that could similarly affect the state’s decision.
Tips for Naming Your LLC
Your LLC name can ultimately make or break your business. Customers want to connect emotionally with your brand and often use a name to do so. Here are some important tips to remember when creating yours.
It’s Okay to Ask for Help
LLC name search tools are an excellent way to reveal options you haven’t been considering. ZenBusiness allows business owners to input a list of keywords the platform will sift through to locate ideas.
Other sites contain business name generators that may help point you in the right direction. Just be sure to put these in an LLC lookup before attempting to register your business.
Plan for Future Expansion
Be careful not to shoehorn yourself into a niche you may want to break out of in the future. If you’re too specific in your choice, customers may have no idea you offer more than your name implies.
For instance, don’t call your company Carl’s Boots if you plan to sell other types of shoes and perhaps even clothing down the road. Also avoid names that limit you to a specific city or region, as who knows how your business will take off.
Catchy is Key
Shoppers are more likely to remember a name that’s clear and concise, even if a longer name sounds cool. We absorb so much content nowadays, there’s only a limited amount of information that stays with us. If there’s a chance of a customer forgetting your business name, they likely will.
On that note, your name needs to stand out against all the other companies offering the same products or services you are. What’s a name conveying what you’re selling that consumers will recall the next time they need what you provide?
You need to find a fine line between boring and being too far out there. Your team shouldn’t be embarrassed by your name and not want to tell people where they work. Say it out loud to make sure it sounds good audibly in addition to being a winner on paper.
Give your company’s title meaning, even if that importance currently only belongs to you. This can become part of your story and may help to sell your brand and products.
Don’t Use Complicated Spelling
Customers may not be the best spellers, and typing errors from complex names may lead them away from your site instead. Similarly, using intentional misspellings to skirt around names already in use could send shoppers into your competitor’s hands.
If someone can’t find your site the first time they search, chances are they aren’t going to try again. A simple, to-the-point title accomplishes way more than you think.
Get Some Feedback
Once you’ve heard a handful of names in your own head a few dozen times, try them out on people you trust to give good feedback. Lean towards unbiased people who have a good ear for naming conventions. Don’t hesitate to seek out feedback from your target audience through forums or social media to hear their thoughts on your ideas.
When starting an LLC, don’t try to tag your business name with “corporation” or some form of the word. In that same vein, don’t imply your company deals in some type of business it doesn’t actually have. If you’re not a doctor, don’t allude to the fact that you are.
LLC Naming Requirements
Your business name has to clearly indicate that you are, in fact, an LLC. Therefore, it must include some form of “Limited Liability Company”. Most businesses choose to stick this designation at the end.
While not an exhaustive list, here are some common ways owners indicate their business structure:
- Limited Liability Company
- Limited Company
- Ltd. Liability Co.
Check for Trademarks
LLC registration protects you at the state level, but companies in other states can still make use of the same name. Trademarks exist on the federal level and trump state name availability.
Perform a check before registering your business so you don’t end up infringing on a trademark. The United States Patent and Trademark Office is the best place to perform such a search.
Look to the State
Each state is allowed to have rules and regulations surrounding LLC names. Be sure to access this information from the state you’re registering in and make sure you meet all the guidelines.
Be Happy With Your Name
With a little luck, the name you choose will be with you forever as your business blossoms and grows. Make sure you’re happy with what you’ve chosen so you don’t become disillusioned with your company later on. It’s worth a little extra effort to come up with something you’ll always like.
Grab a Domain
Any LLC planning to have an online presence should obtain a domain name during the registration process. Linking your business name to your website is essential for removing customer confusion and boosting your credibility. Sticking with the original “.com” tag is always best, as most consumers will go there first.
Domain provider NameCheap offers some of the best deals on the web. It’s not possible to purchase a domain outright, but you can rent one for up to ten years if you so desire. Don’t let your domain name lapse before you’ve had a chance to re-up your contract.
Reserve a Name
Even if you’re not quite ready to register your LLC, it’s a smart move to lock in your ideal name as soon as you come up with it. Most states will allow you to reserve a name for somewhere between 30 days and a year if you pay the applicable fees.
How to do an LLC Name Search
The best LLC services offer the tools you need for building an LLC from the ground up. Investing in one of these platforms simplifies the LLC creation process, and many include unlimited LLC name searches for free on their site.
Should you want to search directly with the state instead, the following links will take you where you need to go.
- Alabama Secretary of State
- State of Alaska Corporations Database
- Arkansas Secretary of State
- California Secretary of State
- Connecticut Secretary of State
- State of Delaware
- District of Columbia (Requires account creation)
- Florida Department of State
- Georgia Secretary of State
- State of Hawaii
- Idaho Secretary of State
- Illinois Secretary of State
- Indiana Secretary of State
- Iowa Secretary of State
- Kansas Secretary of State
- Kentucky Secretary of State
- Louisiana Secretary of State
- Maine Secretary of State
- Maryland Secretary of State
- Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth
- Michigan Secretary of State
- Mississippi Secretary of State
- Missouri Secretary of State
- Montana Secretary of State
- Nebraska Secretary of State
- Nevada Secretary of State
- New Jersey Department of State
- New Mexico Secretary of State
- New York Department of State
- North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State
- North Dakota Secretary of State
- Ohio Secretary of State
- Oklahoma Secretary of State
- Oregon Secretary of State
- Pennsylvania Department of State
- Rhode Island Secretary of State
- South Dakota Secretary of State
- Tennessee Secretary of State
- Texas Secretary of State
- Utah Secretary of State
- Vermont Secretary of State
- Washington Secretary of State
- West Virginia Secretary of State
- Wyoming Secretary of State
LLC Name Search Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This FAQ has answers to the most common questions corresponding to LLC name searches.
Bottom Line on LLC Name Search
The right business name can make all the difference in a never-ending sea of competitors. Customers will buy from a name they resonate with, but may avoid you like the plague if they can’t follow your angle. An LLC name search can help narrow down possibilities in your state while saving time and money when it comes time to register your business.
ZenBusiness has a free LLC search tool on its site for just such a purpose. With the tool, you can identify unavailable names and get ideas for yours based on your favorite keywords. After picking out your name, ZenBusiness can help you with the rest of the registration process for one low fee.